My Love/Hate Relationship with First Person Shooters
- Mar 30, 2013 9:00 am GMT
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I don't think I've ever beat a first person shooter. I've played many FPS' from GoldenEye to Far Cry 3, andI don't think I've finished one. My experience with first person shooters goes like this:
Start a First Person Shooter.
Become Bored by the
It makes me hesitant to spend any money towards playing a critically acclaimed first person shooter. The last first person shooter I played was Far Cry 3. That game was nowhere on my radar screen, but things were boring in December 2012, and Far Cry 3 was getting some pretty impressive reviews. I played the solo campaign, and found myself turning it off every 20 minutes. The game had plenty of fun things to do, but I just wasn't enjoying the experience. I traded it in a week after I bought it. All of those positive reviews, and I didn't enjoy Far Cry 3. Shame. I didn't enjoy Far Cry 3 because I hate first person shooters.
I Hate First Person Shooters.
Well that's not entirely true. I enjoy watching people play First Person Shooters. I would have no problem watching someone play Far Cry 3. I probably would have gotten more into the game if I had watched someone do their thing. If one of my friends had gotten into Far Cry 3, I would've been right there watching it like a movie. Heck, I'd even play the game for a little if my friend wanted to take a break.
Come to think of it, I enjoy playing First Person Shooters with other people. I spent months playing Turok Evolution with my friends back in the day. Multiplayer is where it's at. My friends and I would meet up after school and play deathmatches for hours. I remember I would pack my Wavebird controller in my backpack so I could go straight to my friend Brian's house from school.
I Love Multiplayer Tho...
Hanging out with friends and playing a first person shooter has always been a joy for me. It goes back to the days of GoldenEye on the Nintendo 64. Four people playing split screen on a 13 inch TV having a blast. Those were the days. There's something about being in the same room with a person while I play a First Person Shooter. Maybe it's just being able to hang out and play videogames you know? I hope Split Screen games never goes away.
These days I find myself having the most fun playing Split Screen Co-op with one other player. Modern Warfare 3 surprised me with its Spec Ops mode. My friend Tino and I finished every mission in two nights. I thought Borderlands was best when I played it split screen with my friend Blake. I found it boring when I played by it online, but when Blake and I played together it was magic. We played it until 7 in the morning one night. It was crazy.
Not So Much
While I enjoy playing with other people, I'm not a fan of playing First Person Shooters Online. Not only do I suck, but I just don't have a lot of fun playing. I'm a different kind of gamer in an online environment My focus is completely different. When I play any game offline I find myself trying to be stylish when I play. For example, in Grand Theft Auto IV, I'll always have a rare or exotic car in my garage. When I'm online my only focus is not to die. It's different. It makes it worse when the game I'm playing is a first person shooter. I'm never see anything coming. It's the worst.
I thought maybe playing online with friends would help, but it doesn't. It's just not the same when I can't accuse anyone of looking at my screen. This is one of the reasons why I consider GoldenEye for the N64 to be the best First Person Shooter ever. Multiplayer games weren't online back then so you were forced to play in the same room with people. I've got nothing but good memories from those days.
BioShock Infinite is set to be released at midnight. I don't think I'm going to play it. The good reviews Infinite has received are doing little to influence my decision to play it. I don't want to end up disappointed like I did with Far Cry 3. Who knows? I might end up bored enough to give Bioshock: Infinite a shot. When there's nothing else, a first person shooter will have to do.
The Bad Gamer Soap Box - Problems With the One Way Road
- Mar 30, 2013 6:36 am GMT
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With the increasing volume of people crying for gender/ sex equality in games, it's surprising how quickly people forget the subject of sexuality, including those who are asexual. I'd argue that the gender/ race argument and the sexuality argument are the same. It's all or nothing where I'm concerned.
In Tell Tale's the Walking Dead, character plays a huge role in how things end up. There are emotionally strong and weak characters, male and female. In a world where the human population is in decline, sexuality matters. A strong gay or asexual character would bring a dynamic to the complications of the situation that haven't been touched on that much, if at all.
In the same game, there's a child that is in almost constant risk of being killed. I've ranted a lot in the past about ethical dilemmas in games and our responsibilities as gamers. I've become more open minded about it, but there's still a sliver of uneasiness about playing as someone who has a child's life in his hands. I think that's developer's intent, and would argue that there would be a similar dilemma if they introduced a likable character who's sexual orientation went the other way. What would happen if they came across a human community?
In thinking about strong female characters, going way back (1999), there was Fear Effect. Fear Effect put in control of three characters, two of whom were lesbians. If I remember correctly, and I'm not honestly sure I do, the game took some heat for having two attractive lesbian protagonists. It also received critical praise for it's story and deep character development. There were two games and a third one was canceled.
I'm an easy going guy who doesn't believe that either gender should be put on a pedestal. I believe we should all be equal, but we all do have our roles. Men and women are different and that's fantastic. Gay, straight, asexual, a person's a person and those dynamics are what makes each of us interesting. I'd be the last person to say it doesn't matter, because having a gay mother changed my life drastically as a child and forced a new perspective on me. Luckily, it's made me a more diverse person and arguably contributes to my better qualities as a human being.
However, much like the diversification of a main character's gender and race, it's a very delicate process. Fear Effect arguably didn't make it as a major horror franchise because the two gay protagonists were all up in gamers grills about it. I'd say it was ahead of its time.
BioWare took major heat for including the playable choice of having your character be gay or not. It didn't change the story or how other characters interacted with you, but it was there and that was enough to tweak many a nerve. People still weren't ready for it.
With how far we, the USA, have come as a society over the last hundred years with equality, we still have a long way to go. Those who argue that race/ gender equality in games is important and not say the same for sexual orientation are failing to see the bigger picture and are making a one way argument. Of course, context matters and it shouldn't be shoved down our throats, but to me the arguments are one and the same. It may take baby steps, but I'm willing to wait and see how character development evolves into something most people can agree on.
Playing games with your children.
- Mar 28, 2013 3:37 pm GMT
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This is a blog I've been trying to write for a while but too many times when I was drafting it, it went off into different tangents but everyone knows I'm a big advocate of the industry at least trying to put forth effort when it comes to games geared at kids instead of going by the lazy ass mindset of "who cares if it's crappy, kids are stupid and buy anything." Yeah kids are less discerning when it comes to entertainment but I agree with the Nostalgia Critic in that just because it's made for kids is not an excuse not to try. And I also agree with the Nostalgia Chick's comments on the fact that entertainment is the one thing parents will look at and say "who cares if it's crappy, it's just for my kids." Seriously parents, you wouldn't say that about a car seat, or food, or their bed.
And all too often I find comments regarding the consoles and see comments along the lines of "Well I got the Wii for my kids so they could play it while I'm playing Call of Duty." And part of me wants to just go over and say "you know instead of using a game console as a babysitter, why don't you go down and PLAY something like Mario Kart with your kids and you know BE A F***ing parent" or that's what I'd say if I was an angry person.
But even with video games removed from the equation, this is all too common in today's society. Familes who don't spend time together when they're at home. I mean how many of you come home, eat dinner, do homework and spend the evening on the computer or playing games, your mom is downstairs surfing the web on her Ipad, Dad's watching the game on TV, your sibling is in their room doing their own thing. It's kind of sad. Then we wonder why there are so many troubled teens, or kids going on crazy school shootings, or whatever and instead of blaming violent media maybe parents should actually take time out of their day to do stuff with their kids including play video games.
This past Thanksgiving I went to visit my nephews. I have 2 young ones (the oldest one is working in Montana now). The youngest one is 6 and with some of my influence is a big fan of Mario, Zelda, Sonic and more recenlty Kirby. But he rarely has anyone who will play with him. After dinner most nights, his dad will go up to the bedroom and hold up in there the rest of the night watching TV and posting his strong right wing views all over Facebook because slapping his poltical beliefs all over FB is clearly more important to him than spending time with his kid. My sister in law isn't much better. She has a PS3 in her room so she's either on that or her laptop looking at stuff on Pinterest. My youngest nephew was so happy I was visiting because he knew I'd play Smash Bros. and Mario Party 9 and whatever else with him.
Now some nasty naysayer will call me out saying "well yeah you're a Nintendo fan so you'd play that stuff anyway!" And you're right. All too often I'm playing a lot of Nintendo games on my own, but I will say that at least during this particular holiday weekend both the 13 year old nephew and my husband also played with us. The 13 year old is a great kid. Sure he has his own stuff in his room like his 360 and his Kindle and while he's getting older and gravitating to stuff like Metal Gear Solid. (interestinly enough he was introduced to Snake though Smash Bros. Brawl) he will still take time and play with his younger brother. Often helping him get through some part he stuck on. And my husband who isn't a Nintendo fan also sat downstairs and played a couple rounds of Mario Party 9. Why? Because it was more important to him to spend time with his nephews.
And I'm sure I'll get yelled at by someone who will point out that I don't have kids and I don't understand. And yes I don't have children of my own. I'm trying to but it hasn't been easy for me. And yes I do look forward to sharing my love of Nintendo characters with my kids someday just as parents who loved old Disney/Pixar movies share them with their kids. But I'm sorry if the idea of taking time away from teabagging in Call of Duty or blogging on Gamespot to spend time with your children playing some "silly kids game" is a huge inconvience for you, then you suck as a parent. No one's making you give up your big boy games to play with your kids but being a parent is about sacrifice. Video game consoles should not be babysitters.
And I'll leave you with this immortal words from Bender B. Rodriegez.
Have you ever just thought about turning off the TV, sitting down with your kids...and hitting them?" But we're so busy! "Well make time!!"
And to those of you gamer parents who do take time out of your hectic day and play games with your kids. Good for you and I'm sure you learned that the "non working controller" trick only works for a short time. lol
Rust and Bone (De rouille et d'os) - Film Review
- Mar 28, 2013 4:18 am GMT
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French director Jacques Audiard (A Prophet) counters a disjointed script with fascinating conceptual details, beautiful images and intense moments of raw acting. Rust and Bone is equally mesmerising as it is clumsy, but that it is ever touching is a result of some skillful albeit undisciplined filmmaking.
The film's story belongs to Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts), a hardened man looking for a place to stay with his young son Sam (Armand Verdure). With little money, they house together in the home of Ali's sister Anna (Corinne Masiero). Finding work as a bouncer at a nightclub, Ali breaks up a fight and escorts Stephanie (Marion Cotillard) home.
Stephanie is an orca whale trainer at Marineworld but after a freak accident at a show she is hospitalised and wakes up to find that both her legs have been amputated. Depressed and broken, she calls Ali for assistance and comes to realise that with the rest of her body intact she is still capable of living. Meanwhile, to make money Ali participates in sweaty, unofficial kickboxing matches.
As with Audiard's previous film A Prophet, a gritty prison crime drama, the director contrasts agonising moments of pain and violence with images that are brimming with meaning and beauty. The tone is consistent but there are bumps in the script, written by the director and Thomas Bidegain. The book they've adapted, "Rust and Bone", is by Canadian author Craig Davidson, and is comprised of a number of short stories.
The idea from these stories have been borrowed and developed for a whole new story and the two central characters were also written anew for the screen. Some of the theories of physicality are smart, but the pastiche format of the book is too evident at times. The story structure feels episodic, which leaves powerful images, like Stephanie's reunion with the whale, as singular, isolated moments.
The trajectory of the narrative is often stifled as we wait for new plot points to gain punctuality. An underdeveloped subplot surrounding Ali's security employment for example hinges on a sizeable coincidence to drive the story into its final act.
The film is better as a critique of the way people fail to appreciate their own bodies, until they reach catastrophic event that makes them rethink their physicality.
The tight framing of the characters from the waist up removes any consciousness of the rest of their bodies. This reflects the lack of self-worth in their lives as they are only concerned by primal instincts of survival, like relying on other people to mentally or physically carry them (a pertinent image), or scavenging for food in this downtrodden economic period.
The disunity between belief and the primal thought is shown in two juxtaposing moments. Stephanie is filmed through a long lens, standing alone as the mould for her prosthetic limbs sets. The shot seems isolating but the visibility of her own being reminds her that is she still alive and capable.
The film then cuts to shot Ali sitting down at a computer, with only half his body visible, watching brawls on the internet. It shows the immaturity of his self-preservation in using his body for money and what he calls "fun". In this instance, the combination of theme and content is startlingly articulate.
Audiard is less confident with romantic sentimentalism. Both characters begin to inspire each other's belief in their own physical capabilities but it's an uneven theme. Ali convinces Stephanie to sleep with him to see if her body is still functional. We know that he is promiscuous so is he just using her? The question lingers.
Less convincing is when Ali claws back into the match when he sees Stephanie walking towards the fighting pitch or when she is hired to become a money handler for the fights, despite seeing the brutality and juvenility. It softens the opportunity for more explosive conflict between the leads.
The actors, as naturalistic as they are, are a little reminiscent of the film. There are flashes of brilliance, including scenes of unprecedented emotional strain. But then there are stretches where Cotillard's reserved performance makes you long for more perpetuated tension and drama. It's an affecting and sometimes beautiful film but you will have to wait for its best moments.
It's not just women that are part of the "new core"
- Mar 28, 2013 12:07 am GMT
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"YOU ARE GOING TO PUT ELLIE ON THAT DAMN COVER!"
Well here we go with this topic again. A narrative designer by the name of Tom Abernathy has made a bold declaration: Women are the new core audience in gaming. Shortly after, Gamespots own Carolyn Petit posted an article backing the guy up and adding her own two cents. They both make a very good point, and there is a lot of truth in their words. But there's one thing I think they're both missing here. Or to be fair, one thing they don't emphasize as much as "Women are the new core"
Abernathy claims that women are the new core and that we should be making a more diverse range of games that appeal to this new core. But women are just one part of that new core. Thinking ONLY about women ignores the wide variety of other groups that are also a part of gaming, yet are seen as equally unimportant or even nonexistent. The groups hardly get any games that specifically speak to them because those types of games "aren't profitable." These groups are a wide variety of races, backgrounds, ages, and can be of either gender. They also have a wide variety of things they want more of in gaming, including but not limited to: more complex and diverse gameplay, more interesting tones and worlds, and richer narratives.
Now, there are two reasons why this subject gets people angry and up in arms. One: they think this is secretly a "men vs. women," or "whites vs. minorities issue." Two: They think anyone who dares to suggest that maybe games can be a little better is a nut who wants to get rid of wildly popular games like Call of Duty and God of War. Because "Ew David Cage, I dont want all games to be interactive movies" or "Ew female game designer, I don't want to play girly games." The point of this blog is to debunk both of those beliefs. That, and point to what the real issue is here. And the real issue has nothing to do with race or gender. And the real solution doesn't mean the death of AAA games aimed at teenage boys and young adult men.
It's no secret that games are primarily geared toward 15-25 year old males. Or at least, that's mainly how publishers see it when deciding which kind of games they want to throw their money at. And these publishers are intent on catering to this crowd in the most stereotypical way possible: with big guns, extreme violence, blood, and carnage, all done by the big burly male main character. Oh and breasts. Can't forget the breasts.
The problem isn't that these games exist. After all, movies and literature that contain the exact same content exist. And people love it. They eat it up. But movies and TV shows allow for more than just adrenaline pumping action flicks. They cover a wider variety of themes and genres. That's not to say that video games don't have variety. They do. But no matter how you paint it, the variety in gaming is quite limited when compared to movies, television shows, and literature. Those other mediums cater to wider variety of people of all demographics. And they're rolling in money while doing it.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not out to demonize men and make it seem like games are idiotic and childish because of them. As I stated above, people tend to get all heated about this subject due to gender factoring into the discussions. But here's what I think is the real problem here. And guess what? It has nothing to do with this whole Men vs. Women gender debate:
By pandering to one demographic, you're severely limiting the variety of entertainment that you can put out there. You're stifling potentially creative and innovative new ideas by rejecting anything that doesn't cater to that demographic. You're alienating large groups of people and their piles of cash. This isn't really worrisome if its just a few games. After all, not every game needs to appeal to everyone. But its a problem when it spans across most of an industry. So you see the problem isn't gender. I'd still be making this blog even if I was in a parallel universe where video games catered to mostly 15-25 year old women, or mostly 65 year old grandparents, or mostly 10 year old kids.
Creativity cannot flourish and new ideas cannot spring about when developers are told that they cannot do something that doesn't please this one group of people. Nor can it flourish when they are expected to resort to stereotypes and common tropes to please said group of people. They cannot even gain confidence in their ideas if publishers are going to laugh in their face and say that "You can't do that! No dude wants to see that!"
Also, a lot of people tend to get all bent out of shape when this subject arises because they think people want to get rid of any game that caters to the 15-25 year old male demographic. But really the solution is not to get rid of AAA games like Call of Duty, God of War, Gears of War, or Assassins Creed. And anyone who says that that is the solution is delusional. New and creative games that don't cater to the same demographic can coexist peacefully alongside these games. Why should we need to compromise either? There is room for both. "Variety is the spice of life" after all.
Its just a matter of convincing publishers of this fact. Crap like this should not be happening. Creative new IPs should not be refused just because they don't cater to the same demographic that a million other games are. Creative new games should not be given less advertising than generic and formulaic games that don't do anything new. Of course, businesses are businesses after all. Its hard to ignore that fact.
Even still, it feels as if theres a shift in attitudes coming along in gaming. Sure there are some companies, publishers, and developers intent on churning out the same old boring tripe. But some others are speaking out. They're saying that maybe, just maybe, games could be much more than they are. They're going against the archaic attitudes of the publishers. Which is why when articles like this or this pop up, I feel like the developers aren't even saying that to us gamers (since the collective "DURRR" that always ends up in the comments implies that gamers already know that). I feel like they're saying it to the publishers who rejected them and told them to "take the lady off the cover."
And thankfully, when they decide to branch out to bigger and better things, they have alternatives like steam/psn/xbl and kickstarter to back them up when no publisher wants to. For all peoples talk of nothing new happening in the coming gen, I'm seeing a lot of potential for change. It seems we're witnessing a complete shift in attitudes that's in its very early stages.
Look at this issue from another perspective as well. How long are we going to stereotype every single male as someone who will automatically drool with pleasure over anything that has violence, blood, and breasts? Who's to say that male gamers don't want more variety too? What if a 40 year old male gamer, who's been gaming since he was at the wee age of 10, is also getting just a little bit tired of the same old story of an emotionless man with a gun, devoid of any personality, who's only goal is to mow down aliens or other people? What if there are several male gamers who are about 30 and up and want a game that doesn't have juvenile humor and dialogue that sounds like it was written by someone half his age?
Anyway, that's really what it boils down too. This isn't about sexism, racism, gender roles, or being politically correct, even though people try to make it out to be like it is. Its about a medium we all love growing and maturing into something bigger and better. A medium that expands beyond pandering to the stereotypes of only one demographic. A medium that can satisfy the wide variety of people it attracts. Women aren't the only new core. It's also the wide range of both men and women who don't fall into the "15-25 year old male who won't touch anything that has no explosions, violence, and guns" demographic. They're the ones who want something more from the medium than only blood, violence, gratuitous profanity, and inappropriately placed sex scenes. We are all the new core.
And it'll be interesting to see what kind of games we'll get once this realization finally takes root in all of the industry.
Are game publishers singled out?
- Mar 26, 2013 4:50 am GMT
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Before I dive into what I'm sure will probably end up in a barrage of flames, I need to say that I am in no way defending game publishers, I am just pointing out something I have noticed, and it bothers me.
Three weeks ago SimCity was released, unless you just returned from a month long dive in the Mariana Trench, then you know the launch did not go well. Many gamers, including myself, experienced multiple issues with the horrid, evil, always on DRM and game bugs. The ensuing uproar, and shouts of "down with EA" could be heard through the vacuum of space.
Lets be honest, we have all bought SOMETHING in the past that either did not work the way it was supposed to, or just did not meet our expectations. We have all had to return something, or exchange a item for one that worked, or for one of a equal value. I am willing to bet that in 99.99% of those situations, you did not also keep the item/product that you originally bought.
So, what I'm asking is.... why do gamers demand, and EXPECT a publisher to not only FIX the game that was released with bugs (as they should), but also then ask for something "free" in return for all the pain, suffering and mental anguish that they were subjected to? Why should you get more in return? If you bought a shirt, and when you got home you noticed a small tear in it, do you return to where you bought it demanding a replacement shirt, plus another shirt? Do you go after the people that made the shirt, or just the place where you bought it from?
If you go see a movie, and you walk out afterwards disapointed, do you go see the manager asking for ticket to a different move, along with a refund of the money you already paid? Do you then also contact the studio that made the movie, demanding a ticket to a current, or future release?
Why does it seem to me that game studios and publishers are unfairly singeld out when situations like this happen? I understand that things like this should not happen, but at the same time I don't feel that I am owed "more" than a working product once the issues have been pointed out.
I know the argument is "Well if we don't complain, and don't demand, then we will continue to get poor quality products". I'm sure there is some truth to that, I just don't know if demanding more than our initial investment is the right way to go about it.
Now Playing: Zelda:Link's Awakening
- Mar 25, 2013 3:27 pm GMT
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So recently I got into playing this title I downloaded on my 3DS:
This is a title that often gets overlooked in the Zelda series and it's a shame because honestly this is one of the best ones I've played, up there with the criminally underated Minish Cap.
So for those who don't know the story. According the official Nintendo Zelda timeline this occurs in the "Defeated Link" timeline where he lost to Ganon in Ocarina of Time. Originally it was the direct sequel to A Link to the Past but actually now follows the 2 Oracle games (which as of now are the only 2 Zelda games I haven't played. Hoping to change that.) Fearful that Ganon might rise to power again, Link sets off to sea on a sort of spirtual quest to prepare himself for future battles. He gets caught in a storm, and gets shipwrecked on an island where he learns that if he wants to leave he has to collect 8 magic instruments to wake a magic whale who sleeps in a giant egg on a mountain top. Makes perfect sense.
Actually the story does make Link to the Past somewhat unique much like Majora's Mask. There's no Zelda, no Ganon and no Triforce and unlike MM there isn't even some looming threat of total annihlation. At one point the game hints that "if the Wind Fish sleeps too long, the hero's life is gone" but no giant threat of someone destroying the world.
Probably even more interesting about this game is the number of Mario cameos almost making this a Zelda/Mario crossover. Tarin most notably, a mustachioed man who's hunting mushrooms but several Mario baddies lurk in dungeons as well as Wart, the main baddie of SMB2 makes an appearance as the Frog King. Even Kirby and Dr. Wright from the SNES Sim City come along. Also early in the game you can get a Yoshi doll to trade later on.
Even more interesting about Link's Awakening is a lot of elements here would later show up for the next game Ocarina of Time. Such as the Ocarina itself. Now of course the original game had the magic whistle that warped you around the map but here, Link gets an ocarina and then has to seek out characters to teach him 3 different songs. One of which is taught by old Wart here.
Another element of this is the Trading Sequence. Everyone knows of the long tedious quest to get the Biggoron Sword in OoT but LA has it's own rather long series of trading items for something else eventually getting you the boomerang which in this title is insanely powerful so it's actually worth it. You also have the shell collecting where 20 shells upgrades your sword which isn't nearly as tedious as the Golden Skulltulas. The DX version has a "Color Dungeon" which was an optional bonus area where completing it allowed you to upgrade attack or defense.
If I had any complaints with this Zelda title it's that bosses are a bit easy. I fought a giant angler fish boss and killed him in a matter of seconds before he even really attacked as well as the boss of the face shrine can be killed easily with bombs. Also there's a fair amount of backtracking and though Kolohint Island is smaller than other Zelda worlds, it's not the easiest to navigate.
I'll save the rest for my review but this could end up being one of my all time favorite Zelda games.
On Not Having a Pile of Shame
- Mar 25, 2013 10:10 am GMT
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Hi, I am Dan, I am 31 with a full time job in IT support and a wife. I also do not have what is known as a 'Pile of Shame'. For those who don't know what I am talking about, the Pile of Shame is a collection of games/movies/books/albums that are considered classics or must haves that you know you should play/watch/read/listen to but simply haven't and that brings about a shame you apparently cannot escape.
Well you know what? You can escape it, and very easily. All you have to do it forget the concept of the pile of shame altogether and realise an inscrutable fact: There simply isnt enough time. Great works come out on a nearly daily basis - games, books, albums, movies - there is already a ton of these this year that will be great things that should be enjoyed, but you do not have the time to consume them all and that is no bad thing at all.
Life is a complex thing where everything is competeing for your time and attention. The things I have already mentioned, plus wifes/girlfriends/boyfriends, regular friends, family are all wanting to grab some of your attention, eating away at available time in any given day. How you deal with life relies your ability to juggle all these attention seekers and carve out your own way of dealing with each.
I spend time with my wife cuddled up on the sofa watching various TV shows, current favourites are The Walking Dead, Dexter, Arrow, Hawaii Five-0, Glee, NCIS: Los Angles. Some great things in there, some total fluff, but those are what I am into at present. They all allow me to spend time with the wife while also consuming some TV, killing two birds with one stone. Are they the truly important TV shows on at the moment? Hell no. Well maybe one is, but I dont have time to consume those shows, and I haven't seen anything in recent memory that fits anyway.
Those shows I miss out on would count towards my pile of shame. I haven't seen some of the truely great movies ever made: 2001, Apocalypse Now, Blazing Saddles, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Exorcist, The French Connection, again all adding to the pile. Movies I have seen include Space Balls, BASEketball, Die Hard 1-5 and hundreds of others including some of the big names. These are movies I can receit lines from off by heart but get no credit for, I just get crap thrown for not seeing the other ones.
I haven't listen to Dark side of the Moon, The Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack, Achtung Baby, Off the wall - great albums that haven't graced my ears before due to either a lack of interest or, more likely, a lack of time. My musical tastes are probably not worth going into in much since I am fully aware my affinities are not to everyone's taste, but those albums would make the pile.
I haven't played To the Moon, Psychonaughts, System Shock, Super Meat Boy, Katamari Damacy, Call of Duty 4, Nights Into Dreams and any Castlevania title. Do I still consider myself very knowledgable when it comes to games? yes I do. Looking down the list of 100 games to play before you die that I took the above examples from, there are just as many games I have played if not more, but because those are the cult classics, thats ones that people can trace most of moden game design back to they would go on the pile.
However, I chose to not have a pile of shame. I have limited time, and if I am ever graced with kids, that time will go down even more. If my job, like the good folks here at Gamespot, were games journalist, then it wouldnt be so much of a problem and I would be able to see many more great games than I get to at present. My job isn't that and it isn't for lack of trying, but I just accept that some things slip through the net.
These are things that will not radically change my life had I actually consumed them, and I can live happily in the knowledge that I have limited time and cannot see/hear/read/play everything I probably should. This because I consume enough for me, to make me happy and feel satisfied, and therefore I do not have a pile of shame.
My hope, as idealistic and futile as it is, is that people reading this editorial will say "Ya know, that dude is right. I don't need this pile of shame I have in my head or even physically in my room. I just need to be happy in what I do consume". It is not going to happen, but I hope I have at least given you some food for thought.
Cash For Sins: The Church Indulgence Returns In A 9Yr-Olds Kickstarter
- Mar 24, 2013 7:14 pm GMT
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I periodically will stumble across items that make me do a double take, meaning I check it and then I check it once more for good measure, because the thing I saw is hopefully not the thing I think I just saw. Sadly, sometimes it is. This is the case for a recent Kickstarter project where a seemingly supportive mother wants to help her daughter in a charming sibling rivalry against her older brothers. The mean duo of males has ridiculed the girl, stating that her gender is incapable of producing good games. Still, at just 9 years of age, the girl isnt fazed and with help from mommy dearest, Kickstarter can come to her rescue and send her to RPG Camp, whatever that is, if they can muster the $829.
Its a noble goal and one we all took to heart, because of the low funds, the charming story and the struggle against adversity that puts us all on the cheering squad for the underdog. That all seems fine; except for a few dodgy tactics of manipulation. However, some of the goals had me taken aback. Now, far be it for me to ask why a sub-$1000 project would need high stakes donations; crazier things have happened. Instead, a first thought occurred that some goals seemed rather unrealistic to a child, even as a goal. For instance, how can you deny or ask someone to alter their vision by creating specific, custom NPCs based on backers that have paid the amount? In a regular setting, sure, but this is a 9 year old were asking to play house exactly like we want to. How many times has that ended well in the chronicles of all house playing ever?
Yet, by far the one that took me for that double take was the final tier, the $10,000 powerhouse donation. First off, the amount itself is more than 10 times the funds needed for the project in its entirety. Its a bit much. Still, thats not the thing that made it seem odd. Again: Kickstarter can be strange sometimes. No, its the fact that one of those prizes states that her brothers will personally apologize to you, the backer, for something you have no involvement in. Rather than just being plain weird, its the fact that morality is paired with currency that sickened me. I use a strong term, but it has made a tangible knot in my insides when I read it for what it really was: The literal concept of evil washed away with cash, which is in itself a redundancy of any remorse. The act is solely done to spite and the regret is only achieved when enough funds are acquired.
This was a major turning point in the ancient world with the Church and its concept of indulgences. In fact, its how the Church got to be the powerful, currency-backed institution it is today and why several branches started detaching from the known concept. Anyone who had sinned could buy their way back into the gates of heaven. It was indeed so popular that the Church began breaking down indulgences in fraction, so that poorer people could repay their since in payment plans. It was so ingenious that fractions would never complete, as youd buy 1/8 of an indulgence, which would then break off in another, smaller fraction and so on. To end this brief history lesson, it was a major catalyst for historic figure Martin Luther to denounce the Church for its greed and notify it of its sober and humble roots. If you follow organized religion today, the new Pope, Francis, has uttered a similar desire.
What I dont mention in that history lesson is the revolutionary movements, bloodshed and atrocities that this mentality has brought forth. This is the mentality in that Kickstarter that upset me: the loss of all morality for financial gain, through any means necessary. While the Kickstarter has long since reached its initial mark, I can only hope that it gets shut down for this deplorable action and the many others inside, which will fill the internet shortly.
There are tons of amazing Kickstarter game projects you can back. Developer Craig Stern has come back with Telepath Tactics for the second time and succeeded, but this strategy title can still use your help. More importantly, the glorious open world game Planet Explorers is still seeking funds for its sandbox RPG. You can support it here.
The Other Side
- Mar 22, 2013 3:00 pm GMT
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While most software companies only have a few franchises to take care of, Nintendo has developed an unparalleled quantity of easily recognizable titles. Once upon a time, there was only Mario struggling against the giant menace that was Donkey Kong. Eventually, the two characters went separate ways, and ever since those days, Nintendo's properties have grown in numbers. And while the pace - to the disappointment of some fans has not been exactly constant, the result of the combined creative outbursts through the course of over thirty years has put the company in the unique situation where it is faced with two options: either completely drop some of its most recognizable franchises, or hand them over to somebody else to take care of.
As a perfect reflection of the modern business era, Nintendo has adopted outsourcing as a major part of its strategy to keep providing players quality first-party franchises in a steady pace. And much like all responsible companies do, regardless of the business they are in, Nintendo keeps a close look on the teams handling its titles outside of the Big N's Kyoto walls. Other than increasing productivity, that strategy has a second, much more interesting, effect that is directly felt by gamers who have been following those franchises for a while; and that is the considerable benefit that is gained by having another company - with a very different philosophy, which is usually contained to a certain degree by Nintendo - experiment with a franchise with which many of their developers grew up with.
Historically, the results of outsourcing have been generally good, even though they do not always show a considerable change in the franchise's established structure. Such was the case of the twin Zelda titles released for the Game Boy Color: Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages. Both are excellent games, but little to nothing about them shows a significant change implemented by the minds at Capcom. The split between an action-focused title (Seasons); and one with tougher puzzles (Ages), was a great move, but neither one of those factors was exactly new to the series. The other Capcom Zelda experiment followed the same path. Minish Cap was a visual delight, and it had a fantastic core concept, but there was no significant shift for the series.
Perhaps, the three finest examples of how much a game can gain by outsourcing lie in the Metroid franchise. Though it might be hard to make such a conclusion, it is possible to say that the Metroid Prime series would never come to exist had it been developed by Nintendo. Not only are first-person games a specialty of American developers, Nintendo had also no experience whatsoever with that genre. The wonderful discovery of the unknown Retro Studios was the best move the company has done in the past decade, and it paid off marvelously as they have, so far, proven to be able to give new fantastic life to franchises that were stuck in the 16-bit era by either completely overhauling it, in the case of Metroid; or by keeping its roots intact, in the case of Donkey Kong Country, which turns out to be itself a franchise originally created far away from Nintendo's headquarters, back in Rare's English home.
F-Zero is another case of a franchise that experienced a strong growth outside Nintendo. F-Zero GX came to be by the hands of Sega, and the result was, by far, the best game of the series and, possibly, the finest racing title to ever hit a Nintendo console. Once again, F-Zero GX benefited from something Nintendo would have probably not done, which is to turn their franchise into a gargantuan racing game with brutal difficulty, single-player focus and a story mode. Sega unleashed the true potential of F-Zero, something that inside Nintendo would have probably been kept restrained by the company's often conservative approach.
While the Metroid series houses the finest examples of the benefits of outsourcing, it contrasts that by owning the most polemic came that was a fruit of that approach: Metroid Other M. Needless to say, it is unthinkable that Nintendo would have treated the franchise as a cinematic action-packed tale with loads of voice acting and more than ninety minutes of cutscenes. The company noticed Samus' potential as a character with a lot of story to tell, something that was increased by the mystery factor that always surrounded her tragic and courageous life. In the knowing they did not have the expertise to handle such a direction, the game was promptly handed over by Team Ninja, which readily removed Metroid's explorative nature and backtracking, and turned Samus into a pit of sentiments. Other M is the most blatant case of how different minds and a different philosophy can affect a game, and, in this case, results were mixed at best.
Perhaps not as controversial, but with an equally questionable quality, Star Fox Adventures is shunned by many, but beloved by others. As beautiful and well-produced as the game was, the final product felt incomplete. Fox hopped out of his airwing, a sinful move to many fans, and - to make matters worse - he set out on an adventure that felt a whole lot like a Zelda game, but that never really got to the point of being as exciting, clever or impressive as Link's usual journeys. While it did have fantastic moments, the game felt a bit sour as the uniqueness of a traditional Star Fox game was lost and replaced by a generic Zelda-like game instead. Fox would try to recover three years later with Star Fox: Assault, but the game lacked the replay value of the first two Star Fox titles and some of the missions were lackluster. Namco never got a second shot at the franchise, which is a shame, because Assault showed promise. If they were given the opportunity to fix the little flaws and to listen to what fans had to say, they could have created a truly remarkable package within a few years.
More than simply adding something extra to a game, outsourcing also serves as a way for the company to internalize some of the knowledge acquired by its partnerships. In Nintendo's case, there is no better example than the Mario RPG series. What started as a joint experiment with the RPG masters of Square, has transformed into a franchise that is developed more closely to Nintendo, by Intelligent Systems, in the case of Paper Mario; and by AlphaDream, in the case of the Mario and Luigi series. The results have been fantastic, as Mario's RPG bids have produced a handful of games that are among the best ever, such is the case of Super Mario RPG, the first two Paper Mario titles, Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga and the astonishing Bowser's Inside Story. For a company that had never tried its hand on an RPG, Nintendo and its subsidiaries have turned into efficient machines.
The most recent Paper Mario - Sticker Star - though, shows that sometimes some sort of relearning is necessary, and in situations like these it might be a good idea to shake things up a little bit by allowing other companies into the development process. An outsider's view might be very effective in pointing out what exactly are the necessary measures to put a franchise that has been struggling back on its track. It might not be the case of the Mario RPGs, which have one dud in many attempts, but other franchises would certainly fit the bill quite nicely.
Outsourcing can have a number of distinct results and benefits. One thing is for sure, though: it is rather intriguing and exciting to know that a big franchise is being turned over to another company, as the possibilities of changes and considerable developments rise. What franchises would you like to see outsourced? Who would you want to see handling them?
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